Nam Yi(南怡)

Nam Yi

Headword

남이 ( 南怡 , Nam Yi )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Legends

Writer HanJonggu(韓宗求)

This legend narrates the story of Nam Yi (1441-1468), a military official from early Joseon.

Nam Yi made a name for himself early in his government career, appointed as the Minister of War at the age of twenty-six, but was soon accused by Yu Gwa-jang of treason and then beheaded. Nam married the fourth daughter of high official Gwon Ram, the story of which makes up a major motif in the oral tradition. Nam Yi legends are documented in Yeollyeosilgisul (Narratives by Yeollyeosil) and Daedonggimun (Strange Tales of the Great East), and oral narratives are transmitted across the country.

Nam Yi was believed to be a resurrection of the haunted spirit of a giant centipede that imposed human sacrifice but was killed by a man of supernatural powers. As a result, Nam Yi possessed a courageous spirit and the power to see ghosts. When he was a little boy, playing games on the street, he noticed a young servant taking a small box wrapped in cloth, and saw a female ghost with a powdered face sitting atop the box. Nam, suspicious, followed the servant, who entered the house of Gwon Ram. A while later Nam heard weeping from the house, and was told that the master’s young daughter had suddenly died. Nam Yi insisted that he could bring the daughter back to life if he were permitted to enter the house, and it took a long time to persuade the family, but when he finally stepped inside, he saw the ghost with the powdered face sitting on the young daughter’s chest, and it ran away at the sight of Nam Yi. With this incident, Gwon Ram made Nam his son-in-law. Nam Yi’s military achievements include the conquest of Jeju Island and Duman (Tumen) River, for which he was awarded 700 li of land on the Yodong (Liaodong) peninsula. It is believed that Nam Yi’s death was the result of a trick played by the powder-faced ghost or another ghost named the Queen of Jeju Island, changing a line from one of his poems, which read, “have yet to bring peace to this kingdom, ” to “have yet to conquer this kingdom, ” resulting in accusations of treason.

It is also believed that Nam Yi was affected by the spirit of the snake during his birth; that he was born from the body of a woman warrior; or that he became strong by stealing a drink from Janggunsu (Strongman Spring). Some variations of the legend include anecdotes of Nam Yi as a man of supernatural powers, chasing away a tiger that harassed villagers, an act that landed him his government post, and by using a talisman to stop frogs from croaking in the pond.

This legend can be categorized as a haunted spirit narrative, in which the birth, marriage, military achievement and death of the protagonist are all relared to haunted ghosts. Nam Yi is worshipped as a village guardian god (dangsin), his deification signifying a means of accepting his tragic and undeserved death.

Nam Yi

Nam Yi
Headword

남이 ( 南怡 , Nam Yi )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Legends

Writer HanJonggu(韓宗求)

This legend narrates the story of Nam Yi (1441-1468), a military official from early Joseon.

Nam Yi made a name for himself early in his government career, appointed as the Minister of War at the age of twenty-six, but was soon accused by Yu Gwa-jang of treason and then beheaded. Nam married the fourth daughter of high official Gwon Ram, the story of which makes up a major motif in the oral tradition. Nam Yi legends are documented in Yeollyeosilgisul (Narratives by Yeollyeosil) and Daedonggimun (Strange Tales of the Great East), and oral narratives are transmitted across the country.

Nam Yi was believed to be a resurrection of the haunted spirit of a giant centipede that imposed human sacrifice but was killed by a man of supernatural powers. As a result, Nam Yi possessed a courageous spirit and the power to see ghosts. When he was a little boy, playing games on the street, he noticed a young servant taking a small box wrapped in cloth, and saw a female ghost with a powdered face sitting atop the box. Nam, suspicious, followed the servant, who entered the house of Gwon Ram. A while later Nam heard weeping from the house, and was told that the master’s young daughter had suddenly died. Nam Yi insisted that he could bring the daughter back to life if he were permitted to enter the house, and it took a long time to persuade the family, but when he finally stepped inside, he saw the ghost with the powdered face sitting on the young daughter’s chest, and it ran away at the sight of Nam Yi. With this incident, Gwon Ram made Nam his son-in-law. Nam Yi’s military achievements include the conquest of Jeju Island and Duman (Tumen) River, for which he was awarded 700 li of land on the Yodong (Liaodong) peninsula. It is believed that Nam Yi’s death was the result of a trick played by the powder-faced ghost or another ghost named the Queen of Jeju Island, changing a line from one of his poems, which read, “have yet to bring peace to this kingdom, ” to “have yet to conquer this kingdom, ” resulting in accusations of treason.

It is also believed that Nam Yi was affected by the spirit of the snake during his birth; that he was born from the body of a woman warrior; or that he became strong by stealing a drink from Janggunsu (Strongman Spring). Some variations of the legend include anecdotes of Nam Yi as a man of supernatural powers, chasing away a tiger that harassed villagers, an act that landed him his government post, and by using a talisman to stop frogs from croaking in the pond.

This legend can be categorized as a haunted spirit narrative, in which the birth, marriage, military achievement and death of the protagonist are all relared to haunted ghosts. Nam Yi is worshipped as a village guardian god (dangsin), his deification signifying a means of accepting his tragic and undeserved death.